In my neck of the woods, the promise of summer is starting to appear. The days are getting longer and the smell of barbeque is in the air. Baseball season is in full swing and pool parties are just around the corner.
Every morning when I go out to walk my dog, I say to myself, “Wow, I can’t wait for summer to take over.”
“I can’t wait for summer vacation and that upcoming camping trip.”
I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait.
Hmmmmm. I’ve noticed that this seems to be a pattern. Not just with the weather, but for many things in life.
How many times, especially as we recover and move on from divorce, have we told ourselves, “I can’t wait for the future. I can’t wait for something to happen. I can’t wait to move way from where I am here. Now.”
Do you see the problem with this constant anticipation?
While there’s nothing wrong with looking forward to something amazing in our lives, we do ourselves a great disservice when anticipation is all we focus on.
We may think it is harmless always look forward to the good things that may be waiting for us down the road. It’s exciting to anticipate what the future has in store for us, but the problem lies in getting stuck with this mentality.
When we constantly tell ourselves, “Next week will be better. Next month will be better. Next year will be better. Anything but today, anything but right now will be better,” we take away the gift that we have. Every day, we have the opportunity—the gift—to mindfully acknowledge and celebrate where we are right now and what we have right now, even if the present does not look perfect.
If we are always waiting for things to happen, we take away the gift we have right now of being grateful for where we are and who we are. Disregarding our current situation fosters internal judgement, taking away the kindness we owe ourselves.
Today, let’s change that.
It’s time to start appreciating…even loving…where we are in our lives, regardless of how disorganized or messy or imperfect it looks.
Because once we accept and love where we are, our stress starts to disappear.
Think about it. So many times we feel stressed because our current situation does not match up with our expectations of how it should be. And we do not give ourselves the credit for where we are right now.
It is not to say that we will always be in our current state, but accepting and appreciating how far we have already come sets the stage for just how far we will go.
So how can we actually start to love where we are, even if where we are right now feels like a complete disaster?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Exercise: How to love our current situation.
Step 1: List the things that we dislike or cause us stress.
Need a nudge? Take a look at my own examples.
-Sometimes I feel completely cramped up in this studio in the city. Why can’t I have a yard? And I’m so annoyed by all the sirens I hear and the high rent I pay.
-Sometimes money worries me—it’s hard not having a double-income anymore like there was in the marriage and I stress about it, whether I need to or not.
Step 2: List how we can accept and love that situation.
This may feel difficult at first, especially if we have felt for a while like there’s nothing great going on. But if we are honest, and mindful, and open our hearts, finding the good in the things we dislike in life right now will not seem like an impossible task.
-I may live in a small studio, but what I love about that I have the opportunity to live without as many material things that cost too much money and bog me down—the things that my friends are complaining about in their big houses. I love not having a big house to clean, and living in this city, though noisy, means that I am never far from doctors or interesting cultural things to do.
-I may have to rely just on my income right now, but I love the fact that I get to call the shots. I am no completely independent and don’t have to make joint decisions with my spouse like I had to when I was married. I get to save and spend my money how I want.
Once we start to change the way we look at things and view them in a positive light that is filled with gratitude, the more joyful life becomes. Our stress starts to disappear. The things we used to dread do not cause us harm, and we start to approach life with a curiosity and graciousness regardless of our circumstances, no matter what those circumstances may be. We are ready for them.
Photo: Getty Images